Litter is the scourge of a civilised society
Today we are standing up to it, and urging you to do the same, with our new campaign Don’t Trash Our Future. The Daily Express, together with local community and information platform InYourArea.co.uk and our nationwide network of sister newspapers and websites, have teamed up with Clean Up Britain to push for changes we believe will leave no choice but for both irresponsible litter louts and the authorities who have the power to enforce the law but so often don’t to take long-lasting action.
Our campaign has two aims:
To increase the maximum punishment for littering to a £1,000 fine or 100 hours of supervised community litter picking
To make it compulsory for local authorities to enforce the law on littering
We are urging you to sign our petition to see it – with the aim of reaching 100,000 signatures so we can lobby the Government to change the legislation and shed the country of its long-held reputation as a litter-plagued nation.
Join our campaign to tidy up Britain
We’re also calling on councils to flex their muscles in the fight against rubbish and make far better use of the powers they already have available.
A Freedom of Information request sent by Clean Up Britain to 169 councils in England and Wales found the majority (56 percent) were issuing less than one fine per week for littering and more than two dozen (16 percent) don’t issue fines at all.
In a recent survey conducted by InYourArea.co.uk, more than 7,500 respondents overwhelmingly said littering has a negative effect on them and their neighbourhoods and classed it as a big problem.
JB Gill, a former member of superstar pop group JLS who is now a passionate advocate for education and the countryside, has signed up as an ambassador for Don’t Trash Our Future.
He said: “It’s great to see that people recognise that litter is a public health concern and a major problem. The only way to stop the damage being done to our health, nature and wildlife is to sign the Don’t Trash our Future petition, object to local councils not enforcing fines and demand a higher penalty for those dropping litter.”
John Read, the founder of Clean Up Britain, said: “Clean Up Britain is very excited to be running the Don’t Trash Our Future campaign with InYourArea.co.uk
“We know from the countless people who contact us that there is a huge desire – from people all over the country – to try to solve the litter epidemic.
“We are all so fortunate to live in a beautiful country, but equally, it’s so depressing
to see so many people littering it.
Behaviour like this would result in larger fines
“This has to stop, as it shames Britain.
“There has to be zero tolerance towards littering.
“Littering is symptomatic of a lack of pride in our local communities, and a lack of respect for other people and the environment generally.
“This campaign is about challenging and reversing these negative sentiments, and saying enough is enough.
“Let’s be grateful for what we have, take care of our country and, above all, ‘Don’t Trash Our Future’.”
Mr Read added: “The Government needs to start getting serious about confronting people who litter.
“It’s a criminal offence to litter and it needs to be treated that way.
“Fines need to be increased to a level which shows the Government – and society generally – will no longer tolerate this antisocial and selfish behaviour.
“In addition, we also need to ensure fines are a credible deterrent, by making it compulsory
for councils to enforce the law, which currently it’s not.”
Journalist and television presenter Jeremy Paxman is Clean Up Britain’s patron.
Jeremy Paxman is Clean Up Britain’s patron
He said: “There is only one sustainable and effective solution to littering: changing the behaviour of people who do it. Nothing else will work.
“It pollutes the environment. It’s dangerous to humans and animals.
“It depresses people because mucky surroundings make them feel worthless. It’s expensive – councils across the UK spend over a billion pounds a year trying to clean it up.”
The campaign has also received the backing of broadcaster and animal rights campaigner Clare Balding and journalist Alice Arnold.
They said: “It’s very sad to see so much litter in this country, both in the countryside and in urban areas.
“It has a demoralising effect on all of us and, also, has a very negative impact on animals.
“A shocking reflection of this is that RSPCA vets, last year, treated over 5,000 cases of animals who’ve been injured by, ingested or become trapped by litter.
“We hope the Clean Up Britain and InYourArea national campaign, Don’t Trash Our Future, will change the attitudes and behaviour of people who do litter, and make us all take more care of the naturally beautiful country we are fortunate to share together.”
Gabby and Kenny Logan are backing our campaign
Further support has come from television host Gabby Logan and her husband Kenny, a former Scotland international rugby player turned broadcaster.
They said: “We’re urging everyone to get behind the Don’t Trash Our Future national anti-litter campaign, and show how much we care about our naturally beautiful country. Littering is senseless, selfish and costly to us all.
“It’s only a minority of people who do it, but it negatively affects the quality of life for absolutely everyone.
Why do people do this? Take your litter home
“To use the sporting analogy… it’s a self-inflicted, needless, own goal. It doesn’t cost a penny to do the socially responsible right thing, and put your litter in a bin. Just do it! Please.”
Ed Walker, the Editor-in-Chief of InYourArea.co.uk, said that it is time for littering to stop.
“InYourArea are proud to be working with Clean Up Britain to tackle the country’s litter and waste epidemic.
“Our users are sick of seeing their neighbourhoods being treated like rubbish dumps. Don’t Trash Our Future will hopefully make councils and members of the public think harder about the littering issue.”
The campaign has also received the backing of behavioural science expert Merle Van Der Akker, the President of Behavioural Insights at Warwick Business School.
He said, “It is not about the absolute value of the fine, it’s about the message it sends.
“This level of fine tells you that this behaviour is deemed costly, and quite frankly unacceptable.
“Sometimes it does take drastic measures to get this message across. From a behavioural science perspective, presenting people with such a message triggers a response of shock, because of the sheer size of the fine.
“People then reason that if the fine is so big, the issue at hand must be of great importance or urgency. This is how you get people to pay attention and take action. No one wants to be fined £1,000 for throwing away a £1 can of drink.”
Our survey says
More than 7,500 people responded to a nationwide survey on InYourArea.co.uk about littering and its effects.
The results showed people are really angry and sad about litter in their area, which they say is a big problem and getting worse during the pandemic.
They want more to be done.
Our survey said…
Half of respondents (50 percent) perceived litter to be a big problem in their area, with a further 35 percent saying it was a major problem.
Just 14 percent said litter was a small problem, and only 1 percent said it was no problem.
Litter has increased since lockdown has eased according to almost two-thirds of people (64 percent)
A quarter (27 percent) said it had stayed the same, while just 5 percent said it had decreased
Respondents aren’t the people causing the problem – 79 percent said they had never dropped litter
Fifteen percent said they may have dropped small wrappers, cigarette butts or gum on occasions, while 3 percent said they did litter
How do you rate your local council?
People are very split on whether or not they’d confront litterers
Forty-two percent said they were very or somewhat likely to confront them, while 40 percent said they were very or somewhat unlikely to do so
Four in five people (80 percent) said they would not confront someone dropping litter because they’d worry about their reaction
Just 2 percent said they wouldn’t do it because of it was none of their business and 1 percent said they would notice the litterer
Respondents were likely to report people for dropping litter
Litter in the era of coronavirus
Twenty-five percent said they were very likely to, while 39 percent said they were somewhat likely, with 36 percent saying they wouldn’t
Most (71 percent) would report the person dropping litter to the council, while 11 percent said police, and 11 percent said they’d post on social media
Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they had never been fined for dropping litter (probably not surprising as most said they didn’t drop it), with 1 percent saying they had been fined
Ninety percent also said they didn’t know anyone else who had been fined, with 9 percent saying they did know someone.
Are there enough bins?
Most people (86 percent) said they knew littering was a criminal offence
Most people thought the fine for littering should be higher than the current maximum of £150
A third (33 percent) said it should be between £250 to £500, 16 percent said it should be £501 to £1,000, while 18 percent said it should be more than £1,000
A quarter (26 percent) said there shouldn’t be a change and 7 percent think the maximum should be less than £150
The vast majority of people (97 percent) think their council should enforce the law against littering
The worse kinds of litter
Most people don’t think the council is doing an a great job of dealing with litter – on a scale of one to 10, the average was four
Twenty-one percent gave a score of 1, 10 percent a score of 2, 13 percent a score of 3, 11 percent a score of 4, 17 percent a score of 5, 10 percent a score of 6, 9 percent a score of 7, 5 percent a score of 8, 1 percent a score of 9 and 2 percent a score of 10
Four in five people (81 percent) think there are too few public bins in their area
Sixteen percent said the number was about right, while 1 percent said there were too many
Despite all this, half (52 percent) of respondents said the cleanliness of their neighbourhood was excellent
Look after our towns and cities
But 42 percent said it was dreadful
People largely agree that litter is a problem (and it’s got worse)
Ninety-six percent agreed that litter is a public health concern
Ninety-five percent agreed that litter is a threat to animals and wildlife
Ninety-seven percent agreed that litter is unattractive
Fifty-eight percent agreed that littering is worse since COVID-19 (17 percent disagreed)
When asked to rank these in order:
Should the council enforce the law?
Forty-four percent put litter is a public health concern top
Forty-five percent put litter is a threat to animals and wildlife top
Forty-two percent put litter is unattractive top
Twenty-seven percent put littering is worse since COVID-19
More than half (55 percent) of people said seeing litter makes them angry
A fifth (20 percent) said it makes them feel sad or depressed, while a further fifth just said they hate it
One percent said it keeps someone in a job, 1 percent that there are more important problems in the world, and 1 percent that there’s nothing that they can do about it
How much should the fine be?
Organise your own clean-up
As well as fighting for long-lasting change, we’re encouraging people to take up the fight in their streets too by organising community litter picks.
Register your interest through this form and we will support and publicise your efforts.
Our celebrity ambassador JB Gill
Meet our celebrity ambassador
JB Gill, 32, rose to fame as a member of one of the UK’s biggest boybands – JLS. They dominated the charts for five years, boasting 5 number 1 singles, over 10 million record sales worldwide and a multitude of awards.
Four years ago, JB set up a farm in the Kent countryside, where he lives with his wife, Chloe, four-year-old son, Ace and 7-month-old daughter, Chiara.
Their smallholding successfully produces award winning KellyBronze turkeys and free-range Tamworth pork.
Now an established member of the farming community, JB has used his success within the entertainment industry to highlight his passion to educate children about the origins of their food and he is the lead presenter on CBeebies’ Bafta-nominated television series, Down On The Farm (created for children aged 0-6 years, teaching them about life on the farm and in the outdoors).
JB’s enthusiasm for farming life and knowledge of countryside issues has seen him regularly contribute to BBC’s Countryfile and Springwatch.
It’s not hard – don’t drop litter, says ED WALKER
Everyone hates litter.
And for more than 50 years, countries, cities and communities have waged war on the filthy litterbugs who shame our streets and parks.
Who can forget Keep Britain Tidy? Then came Don’t be a Litterbug, Be a Binner Not a Sinner and Let’s get Bitter about Litter.
And The Golden Skip prize goes to Australia for the crude-but-cracking Don’t be a Tosser campaign that went worldwide.
So much effort. So much creativity.
Yet still so much filth and debris making lives miserable.
But now, more than ever before, we can consign litter louts to the rubbish bin of history.
In Your Area has nearly 4m users across the UK.
We operate in, and have users in, every single UK postcode district.
Which means we have a huge army of people who care and can make things happen.
So today, on behalf of 4m people, we say: DON’T TRASH OUR FUTURE and we demand the punishment for littering is raised to a £1,000 fine or 100 hours of supervised community litter picking.
And we insist that it’s compulsory for local authorities to enforce the law.
How do we make this reality?
Simply sign our petition and at 100,000 signatures we will call for it be considered for a debate in Parliament.
And with 4m voices behind us we will lobby MPs and ministers to drive through real change that makes things cleaner, healthier, and more beautiful In Your Area.
Together we can win – and ensure those who don’t have respect for our streets, fields and pathways Don’t Trash our Future.
• Ed Walker is the Editor-in-Chief of InYourArea.co.uk